Local gun owner arrested under SAFE Act speaks to Poughkeepsie Journal


A Hopewell Junction man recently became one of the state’s first legal gun owner’s to be arrested under New York’s recently passed SAFE, or Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, Act.


On May 12, state troopers in New Lebanon, Columbia County pulled over 31-year-old Gregory Dean, Jr. for having a license plate light that wasn’t working.

They found him driving with a suspended license and carrying a concealed weapon- legally- that had nine bullets in it.

That’s two more than allowed by law under the new SAFE, or Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, Act.

Dean was arrested for unlawful possession of a certain ammunition feeding device and aggravated unlicensed operation.

Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka declined to prosecute the gun charge but the case was not dismissed.

The SAFE Act was passed in January but the statute that made having more than seven bullets illegal came into effect on April 15.

Dean’s worried about the future of gun ownership.

“These laws attack legal gun owners, not criminals,” Dean said. “Someone carrying a felony under his shirt isn’t going to worry about how many bullets is in it.”

Dean’s lawyer Jonna Spilbor said, “In my opinion, the search (of Dean’s car) was unlawful.”

Dean was also given an equipment violation since the license plate light wasn’t working.


Follow up report to interview:

Hopewell Junction man challenges state gun law

A Dutchess County man charged under New York’s new gun law said it penalizes responsible gun owners.

Hopewell Junction resident Gregory Dean Jr., 31, has been licensed to carry a concealed weapon since 2009. He had nine bullets in his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol on May 12 when he was stopped by state troopers in New Lebanon, Columbia County after his license-plate light was observed not working.

Under the new Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, he is allowed to have seven bullets.

A pistol permit in Dutchess County is a concealed-carry permit, or a CCW, Dean said.

“The biggest problem with this law is that it affects CCW holders more than criminals,” Dean said. “It’s backwards.”

Despite the new law, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka decided not to prosecute Dean on a charge of unlawful possession of a certain ammunition feeding device.

“I examined all the circumstances of the file and arrest,” Czajka said. “I make no blanket policy. This case stands on its own merit, like every case I prosecute.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office declined to comment on the case and Czajka’s decision.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., in December, the New York state Legislature enacted in January the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

On April 15, as part of the SAFE Act, it became illegal for a gun to be loaded with more than seven rounds, unless at a competition or gun range, and capacity for all detachable-magazine firearms is reduced to 10 rounds.

Dean’s gun was on the passenger seat of his car, under a sweatshirt. Despite reports that the state trooper “spotted” the gun, Dean said he told the trooper the gun was in the car after the fact he was a pistol permit holder came to light.

“First it was license and registration (that the police asked to see) … then the pistol permit got mentioned and I alerted him to everything,” Dean said.

The trooper searched the vehicle and found nine bullets in the gun’s clip. Dean’s attorney, Jonna Spilbor, based in the City of Poughkeepsie, called it “in (my) opinion, an unlawful search.

“The cops were very confused as to what to charge him with, whether to charge him,” Spilbor said.

State Sen. Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck, who voted in favor of the SAFE Act, said: “As to whether or not it’s reasonable, that’s up for debate and that’s a part of the law I’m willing to take a look at.

“The point of the law is to save lives,” Gipson continued. “If you were able to ask the children attacked in Newtown whether they would prefer seven or 10 bullets, anything less would be preferable.”

Spilbor said she doesn’t know why three rounds makes “such a big difference.

“I fail to see how a horrible situation in a neighboring state poses an immediate danger to New Yorkers,” Spilbor said.

The Dutchess County Pistol Association, along with many state and county gun associations, sent a resolution to Cuomo opposing the SAFE Act and requesting its repeal.

“I feel this law makes criminals out of legitimate firearm owners,” association President Bob Bidwell said.

Dean also was charged with driving with a suspended license.

Spilbor said Dean “forgot to pay a seat belt ticket and didn’t know his license was suspended,” and said his driver’s license was reinstated before his arraignment Thursday.

Dean was given an equipment violation for the lack of a license plate-lamp, which the county is offering to dismiss. The county is also offering to drop the driving charge to a traffic infraction but Spilbor has declined to accept the offer.

Dean and Spilbor will return to New Lebanon Court on June 13.



Posted on May 30, 2013, in Government, Guns/NRA, New York, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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